Center for Injury Research and Prevention

CIRP REU Training Testimonial - Sophie Tushak

Sophie Tushak -CIRP
CHOP Mentor: 
Aditya Belwadi, PhD, CPST

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Student (Summer 2018)

"My summer at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) rendered both personal and professional growth. I worked with Dr. Aditya Belwadi as part of the Engineering Core in creating several computational pediatric human body models. I used the PIPER software, a program that creates new models by scaling existing models to various ages and anthropometric dimensions. By the end of the summer, I developed four models of different ages (18, 24, 30, 36 months) and four additional models of different anthropometric dimensions,5th, 25th, 75th, and 95th percentiles.

In addition to scaling the human body models, I ran Finite Element Models (FEMs), a method of computation that breaks down complex shapes into manageable components, to analyze a frontal vehicular impact pulse that was applied to the human body model, a car seat, and a vehicle seat in both forward-facing and rear-facing configurations. The overall goal was to quantify the differences in injury metrics between forward-facing and rear-facing children in the four different age groups. The summer culminated in two abstract submissions to national and international conferences.

I also was part of another project that aimed to construct the interior of what an autonomous vehicle could potentially look like so that parents can install a car seat and place their children in the car seat. We will ask them to do this for three different fixture configurations, as the vehicle seats will slide across the floor and swivel around to different positions. Afterward, parents will give feedback, which may influence interior vehicle design. I specifically contributed to the design and construction of the fixture.

From this experience, I gained vital skills in finite element analysis, data analysis, ordering materials, the physical construction of a prototype, and technical writing. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn and develop new skills, as well as master existing ones. The people I met through CHOP, CIRP, and the REU program have been amazing, and the connections will be long-lasting. As I finish my degree in Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University, I plan to carry these new skills throughout the rest of my college career, as well as many years into my professional life. My time at CIRP has reinforced my passion for Injury Biomechanics and solidified my decision to apply to Biomechanics graduate programs."

REU Alumni Member?: